Clearing Space for Multiple Voices: HIV Vulnerability amongst South Asian Immigrant Women in Toronto

  • Roula Kteily-Hawa Queen's University
  • Vijaya Chikermane Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP)
Keywords: Community Based Research, gendered power relations, social theory of gender, HIV risk, HIV-positive South Asian immigrant women, contesting hegemonic masculinity, structural inequities, social justice


This paper shares findings from a community-based research study conducted with South Asian women living with HIV in Toronto. Using qualitative methods, specifically in-depth interviews, participants’ experiences contribute to the creation of a more nuanced and intersectional understanding of HIV risk and support. Their narratives highlighted specific vulnerabilities growing out of structural inequities and gender-based power imbalances in their families and with their sexual and/or marital partners. The participants’ insights have important social justice and health program development implications. Résumé Cet article partage les conclusions d’une étude de recherche communautaire menée auprès de femmes d’Asie du sud vivant avec le VIH à Toronto. À l’aide de méthodes qualitatives, en particulier d’entretiens approfondis, les expériences des participantes contribuent à l’émergence d’une compréhension plus nuancée et intersectionnelle du risque de VIH et du soutien aux personnes atteintes du VIH. Leurs récits ont mis en évidence des vulnérabilités spécifiques découlant d’inégalités structurelles et de déséquilibres de pouvoir fondés sur le sexe dans leur famille et avec leurs partenaires sexuels ou conjugaux. Les révélations des participantes ont d’importantes répercussions en matière de justice sociale et de développement des programmes de santé.

Author Biographies

Roula Kteily-Hawa, Queen's University

Roula completed her Ph.D. in Leadership, Higher and Adult Education with a focus on transformative learning at OISE, University of Toronto in 2013. She has been involved in teaching and curriculum writing for more than 10 years in the Family Supports program at Ryerson University and more recently in the Continuing Teacher Education program at Queen's University. Her recent research projects include examining the role of story-telling as a culturally relevant intervention to promote sexual health. 



Vijaya Chikermane, Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP)
Vijaya has been an avid collaborator and worker in the fields of HIV/AIDS, sexual health and gender equity in Toronto and internationally for over ten years. She is the Executive Director at the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP), the Vice Chair of the Board at Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre in Toronto and the Co-Chair of the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment. Vijaya has a BA in Political Science and an MSc in Social Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).